Multiple traffic tickets and maybe needs an attorney--any advice?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Origami, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Hi All,

    I've been off the board for a few months, and thought things were truly getting better with younger Difficult Child, age 18. He has been working at a new job for almost a year now, had been more respectful, not fighting with siblings, etc. Progress!

    Well, having seemingly learned nothing about enabling, or rather ignoring my gut feelings on the matter, I gave in to his pleas to help him buy a car. Although in the end it turned out to be a truly stupid move on my part, it seemed logical at the time. His job is outside of the public transportation routes, he had just got a promotion to shift supervisor, was going to join the military soon to help pay for the car, etc.

    So to try to keep a long story short (maybe I'll elaborate later since it's too complicated), I co-signed a loan for a car. Again, I left my common-sense at home the day I accompanied him to the car dealership. The salesman said it would be a good way to help build his credit (and I listened!!) and Difficult Child assured me he'd give me all his paycheck to cover the payment, insurance, and gas. We figured it out, and it seemed possible on paper.

    He's kept his word so far and has paid all he's agreed to. This leaves him just a few dollars for spending money from each paycheck.

    However, things are about to get ugly and I am losing sleep over this. He had an accident in a different vehicle a few months ago, pulled out from a parking space and dented another car. The other driver made a claim on our insurance that was paid out, but no tickets were issued. Our insurance increased by $30 a month because of that on top of the already exorbitant price he was already paying.

    In the meantime, he has received three moving violations in the new car, one of which is for aggravated speeding, which is a Class A misdemeanor! He was going more than 50 mph over the limit. This was in conjunction with a ticket for improper lane change. He has a court date in 2 weeks for these.

    The other ticket (first of three) was also for improper lane change a couple of months ago. He had the option of doing an online traffic safety school to delete that ticket since it was his first violation. He did half the school and never completed it! He had 2 months to complete several hours of this school, and he waited until the last day to try to finish, and found out the website wasn't responding. I had been hounding him every day, and every day he said he'd finish. I told him he could maybe call the online school to get an extension for a day, but he didn't call.

    He's started getting mailings from attorneys about the aggravated speeding ticket. Apparently the maximum penalty is up to a year in jail and $2500 fines. I told him I can't afford to hire an attorney, and he can call one if he wants to.

    My first instinct was to say no, let him go to court and take whatever happens. But I'm second-guessing myself wondering if I should help him out this once since he's so young and I feel partly responsible for handing him the tool of his destruction (the car).

    Another factor is that my name is on the car title and loan, so I'm concerned about the fact that his insurance may be cancelled or at least unaffordable when these tickets are resolved. I'm used to having bad credit (unfortunately, another long story), so a repossession doesn't thrill me but it doesn't freak me out. When we were buying the car, I told him I couldn't afford to make his payments and if he didn't pay, he would lose the car. He said, "There's no way I'd let that happen to you, Mom."

    In a way, I wish his license would be suspended, his insurance would be cancelled, and we could get rid of the car so his paychecks could be used for other purposes (like him saving for an apartment). I know a repossession isn't "that easy" and there are still expenses involved, but at least he'd be off our insurance and would have to get his own in the future. If and when he could afford it.

    Should I even consider hiring an attorney for him, or let the consequences fall where they may? Financially, we're living paycheck to paycheck and I have a small amount of available credit on a card I had cleared off for emergencies. But maybe an attorney would be worth it if it keeps his insurance from being cancelled, etc.? But then what is he learning from his mistakes if I step in again?
  2. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    Do nothing let him deal with it most likely he will pay a huge fine and will have some problem with money for a time but he will learn a lesson.
    Most of us went trough something similar in my opinion and it was a lesson that helped us grow and become better adults. That does not mean that kind of mistakes will not repeat but he will have learned to deal with them like a adult responsible for himself.
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  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Your name is on the car too. Without any hesitation or second thoughts, if this were my son he would no longer have a car. I learned long ago typo hat big items we help buy or by are not appreciated by Difficult Child.

    Your son is a very dangerous driver. He keeps that up its only a matter of time before he gets into a very serious accident. He could kill himself or somebody else. He is unwilling to obey driving laws. If if were me id think about selling it. He can save up and buy a beater and pay for the car bills himself.

    Of course, you are not me. Im a fan of letting adult kids learn how to make it, including paying their own bills. It has worked well for my four kids. Ii dont believe in giving expensive toys to adult kids. Mine work really hard.

    You are not me. You have to decide what will work best for you and your son

    Hugs for your hurting heart. Wishing you a wise, calm and logical decision on this matter.

    You are not responsible for his choices. I personally think getting him off the hook is a bad idea. It didnt work for your older son and it wont work for him. If I recall, he is quite defiant, nasty and entitled.

    Good luck, whatever you decide to do.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
  4. Rannveig

    Rannveig Member

    I feel for your son. Good for him that he has a job, and truly tough for him that it's not accessible by public transportation. I don't think you should blame yourself so much for trying to help him. It sounds like it was the most constructive thing to do at the time, and both of you had good intentions. Unfortunately, it sounds like your son has some issues with self-regulation, and they manifest in dangerous driving. So yeah, probably best to take the car away at this point (will there be any other way for him to get to work, though?!). It's not a question of punishing your son. It truly sounds like he meant well but doesn't have great executive functioning. So taking the car away is just a natural consequence: it is no longer affordable. Maybe in another couple of years you can try again.

    I'm not sure about hiring an attorney. Traffic lawyers just skeeve me out, frankly. If I were in your place, I would research online about most effective ways of getting out of trouble on moving violations. Of course, it depends on the judge, but often a big show of being contrite seems to do as much for a person as whatever hackneyed arguments a lawyer would make. Then again, a lawyer well known and respected to a judge and who knows how to plead something out could be worth his/her fee. So it depends...but from what you've told us here I don't think a lawyer sounds like a good investment.

    Again, though, please don't put yourself down. There are no right answers -- only our abiding love for our struggling children.
  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Hi's good to see you even though I am sorry for the reason.

    Don't beat yourself up for one more minute for helping him get a car. You did what you thought was best at the time and that is all any of us can ever do. It is perfectly okay and your decision that you did that. Put that one behind you. I would have done the very same thing myself.

    He just wasn't ready for that responsibility. He has made several more mistakes now, digging a hole for himself, even though other things sound like they are still going well, like his job. Which is great! I'm celebrating the successes he HAS had. view is that you do not help him dig out of the hole he has dug. He needs to solve those problems himself. If you can, ;et the natural consequences occur. That is how we and he will learn. That is the only way we will learn.

    You still know a lot about recovery from enabling...don't underestimate what you know. You made a measured, calculated decision based on what was going on then. That is always good to do.

    But now...Go slow and let things play out. Don't put yourself at risk. That means your money too.

    Give him a chance to take steps to handle his own situation. Even if they don't make sense to you and it's not what you would do. This is a prime learning opportunity for him.

    If your name is on the car, and he ends up with no insurance and that places you at risk, you can take the steps (at that time) to ensure he doesn't drive. But let it play out, one decision at a time. You don't have try to figure every one of the moving parts out right now. already know the drill on finding some peace inside yourself. Focus on you, say the serenity prayer, write it all out in your journal (brain and heart dump), take a walk, take a nap, buy some flowers for your kitchen table. Use your tools to quiet your heart and mind.

    Tell yourself this is not an emergency (it isn't as nobody is bleeding) and slow it all way way down. I have learned that slowing things down is a great first step.

    We are here for you. He is learning and it's a messy business. It doesn't mean all is lost. Hang in there...Warm hugs tonight.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2015
  6. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think one of our biggest mistakes was hiring an attorney to take care of my Difficult Child's DUI. My husband and I even paid for the fine and defensive driving school. She managed to have a friend sign off on her community service hours so in the end she basically walked away scott free. Of course, she learned nothing from it.

    I wish we had let her face the judge and tell him she had no money to pay the fine. She needed to learn from the consequences of her actions.

    My vote is that you do nothing and let him deal with his own mess. Maybe this is the time for him to join the military so he can earn the money to pay for the tickets. If the car was in my name, I would sell it.

  7. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    Thanks everyone for your common-sense suggestions. I read all the replies to my husband, who has been patiently listening to me worry about this. I feel better about my decision to let my son stand up for himself in court. He's been asking me if I think he should try to hire an attorney, and I told him he could call for a free consultation if he wants, but I doubt he can afford the fees and he should realize that an attorney will try to convince him that he absolutely needs their representation.

    Somewhere, you are absolutely right and I did discuss this with my son. He's still driving to work only, and says he's driving "like a grandma" now to avoid getting any more tickets. I do understand your concern, and I have the same concern, but am balancing that idea with the desire for him to get himself to and from work now. He works the midnight shift, so it's really difficult for husband and I to take him to and from work and barely get any sleep ourselves. It's one reason we agreed to help him get a car initially. I hope the seriousness of the situation has convinced him that "grandma driving" isn't so terrible. And yes, depending on the outcome of all this, I think his next car will be a beater that he buys himself.

    Thanks for your reply, and yes, I think I jumped the gun on thinking he was mature enough to handle the car. I'm thinking it's possible that his license will be suspended when he goes to court, and then he won't be driving at all. Once the insurance gets notified, he won't be able to afford the insurance anyway and we'll need to sell the car.

    COM, thank you so much for this calming advice. I have been forgetting to breathe at times from the anxiety and guilt I've been experiencing. Feeling better now.

    Kathy, I will take your advice and not even hint that I'd remotely consider hiring an attorney. I already paid for the traffic safety school that he didn't complete.

    His court appearance is on the 22nd, and I'll let you all know how it goes. I'm going with him so I can drive back home in case they take away his license. It's not even near our home, but in the next county (sigh) about 50 miles away. The story is that he was taking a girl home because her boyfriend was being mean to her and he didn't want her to not have a way home. Despite his flaws. he's generally pretty honest, so I believe he was trying to do a good deed. I'm still not sure why it had to be at 116 mph (in a 55 zone). He also claims he didn't know speeding was such a big deal legally.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Sweetie. These are such basic things that he doesn't know. He does not sound responsible at all. And although I'm sure he meant well about the girl, 115 mph????

    When my daughter drove too fast on an unauthorized road trip to another state in our car, the engine caught on fire! It was an older car, but still!!! Um, she could have been killed and did not drive our vehicle again. The next time she had a car, she bought it herself. That car was destroyed and we had to junk it. Although she had two more accidents after that, in cars of clueless "friends" who let her drive without insurance, once she bought her own car, she never has even had a traffic ticket. Funny how this can work ;)

    There is no safe way to drive 115 m p h. I hope he learns that cops will tolerate about 5-8 miles over the speed limit, tops. (Hubby's dad was a cop and told him that many times). The faster you go, the worse the fine too. I'm wondering if you feel he is mature enough to drive at all. Is there some other way he can get to and from work? He'll have to if he loses his license.
  9. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome back, O

    I'm glad you didn't pay for a lawyer for your son. Please don't feel guilty. That $ is better saved for a true emergency, like a car repair so you can get to work, or an emergency repair on the house. What if your furnace goes out this winter?

    I'm sorry for your son, it seems like he is really trying in a lot of ways. Maybe the car is just too expensive for him anyway? If it takes most of his paycheck for payments, insurance, and gas, maybe he is better off with something less costly? So he can eventually move out and be self-supporting.

    Best case, he will learn a good lesson from this. 115mph! Luckily no one was injured in a crash!

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

  10. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    Is he serious about the military?

    If he is and you are able to ensure he is joining I would consider helping him. With three tickets in a short amount of time it could prevent him from getting in. The military is currently downsizing and only taking candidates that are in good standing. Many of the jobs he could get in the military will no longer be an option due to a record. Even marital therapy can keep them out of a cockpit or out of the Officers Corp.

    It didn't used to be that way. But, with the downsizing the Army often has 200 applicants for each seat in a training class. They don't have time to look through people as closely as they would like so they use anything to rule them out.

    Have him talk to the recruiter that might help set him on the straight and narrow quicker!
  11. Origami

    Origami Active Member

    dstc_99, he actually talked to a recruiter yesterday and got started on the process. He took in paperwork today and is scheduled for a drug screening and to take the ASVAB next week. The recruiter gave him a letter that he's supposed to show to the judge stating that he's trying to join the military. They will wait for the disposition of the court hearing before continuing his processing. My son seemed to think the waiting was more of a formality and they couldn't sign him up officially yet since there's a possibility he could have parole or something that would prevent him from leaving the state. I'm kind-of on the fence now about helping him with the traffic tickets. I really can't afford an attorney unless I go into more debt, but hate for him to miss being able to join. It's something he's talked about for several years now.
  12. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    You could always talk to the recruiter and ask their opinion. Just keep in mind they have to make quotas so they can and do tell you what you want to hear and what will benefit them.